Dear Museum Community,
The violence and chaos that ensued in our nation’s capital on January 6 was horrifying and reprehensible, and a clear attack on our democracy and society propagated by deliberate deception and misinformation from elected officials. On a day that the United States recorded the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day so far, rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to overturn the unambiguous results of our presidential election resulting in the additional tragic loss of lives.
Museums serve millions of people of all backgrounds and political persuasions in communities across the country, who cast their vote on Election Day. Regardless of whom their ballots favored, our support for the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power must be unequivocal.
There is no doubt that systemic racism and the consistent downplaying of the threat of white supremacy in the United States allowed for the security breach on the Capitol, a museum itself, to take place. The treatment of the rioters, many of whom bore clothing and paraphernalia symbolizing hate, violence, and white supremacy, highlights a pronounced double standard in how peaceful Black and brown protesters fighting for racial justice have been treated.
At this dark junction in our nation’s history, museums must lean into their missions and step up to the challenge ahead of us by fighting against white supremacy through educating our communities, building empathy, combating disinformation, and uplifting the stories and voices that have endured in the margins. As interpreters and educators of history and culture, museums and museum professionals have the power to uphold democracy and democratic norms, call out bigotry and hate, and fight for racial justice.
We thank our members of Congress who returned to the Capitol after rioters were cleared to resume the electoral college count and certify President-Elect Biden’s victory, the members of the media who stayed to accurately document this atrocity, and the museum professionals who are now assessing the impact to the Capitol’s collections.
It could not be clearer that it is time for lawmakers to unify around the certified election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. Only united can we move forward to confront our nation’s many challenges, chief among them addressing systemic racism in the United States and ending the pandemic.
American Alliance of Museums
in partnership with
American Association for State and Local History
American Institute for Conservation
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries
Association of African American Museums
Association of Art Museum Directors
Association of Children’s Museums
Association of Midwest Museums
Association of Science and Technology Centers
Council of American Jewish Museums
Illinois Association of Museums
Louisiana Association of Museums
Museum Association of Arizona
Museum Association of New York
Museum Store Association
New England Museum Association
New Jersey Association of Museums
Western Museums Association
Southeastern Museums Conference
The Association of Art Museum Curators
The California Association of Museums
Utah Museums Association
Visitor Studies Association
If you are an AAM Affiliate organization, or a state or regional museum association, and would like to sign onto this statement, please contact AAM Director of Marketing & Communications, Natanya Khashan.